All states require drivers to register their vehicles. If you want to drive your car on the road legally, you have to have a registration certificate. The government will issue it to you when your car gets registered. At that point, you’ll also get the vehicle registration number.
But, finding it might not be as easy as it seems. Your car registration papers will have all kinds of numbers on them. To make the confusion even worse, the documentation differs from state to state.
So, I wrote this quick guide that will explain what the registration number is and where you can find it.
What Is the Vehicle Registration Number?
In general, the vehicle registration number is your license plate number. It is unique to your car.
But, the vehicle registration number doesn’t have to contain only numbers. In most cases, it contains numbers and letters. The combination of the two identifiers can be random or deliberate.
For example, some vehicle registration numbers include letters as state identifiers. But, each state has the freedom to combine numbers and letters as they see fit.
To get a vehicle registration number, you first have to apply for registration. The registration process varies from state to state. But, once you pass it, the authorities will issue a vehicle registration number for your car.
What the Vehicle Registration Number ISN’T
Your vehicle documentation might seem confusing. That’s because it’s packed with all kinds of numbers and descriptions. So, it might take you a couple of minutes to find the number you are looking for.
Don’t confuse the vehicle registration number with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). They both identify your particular car, but there is a big difference between them.
The vehicle registration number can change. That might happen if you move to another state and apply for new registration, for example. But, whether the change will occur or not will depend on the requirements of the issuing authority in that state. Also, you can change it or customize it to your liking.
But, the VIN is fixed, and it never changes. That’s because the manufacturers stamp it on your car during production. It has a fixed combination of 17 digits and letters.
Also, some people confuse the vehicle registration number with the title number. The Certificate of Title is a document that identifies the vehicle owner. It contains the VIN and license plate/vehicle registration number and other information, like the owner’s name.
In order to get a vehicle registration number, your car must have a title.
Vehicle Documentation: A Brief Summary
Vehicle Registration Number:
- Same as the license plate number
- The government will assign it to your car after registration
- It can change, especially if you move to another state and register it there
Vehicle Identification Number:
- Basically your car’s fingerprint
- Can’t change
- Two vehicles can’t have the same VIN
- The car manufacturer stamps it on your car during production
- The number of the Certificate of Title
- The title contains the VIN and the license plate number
- The title identifies the owner of the vehicle
Where to Find Your Vehicle Registration Number
The easiest way to find your vehicle registration number is to look at your license plate. The vehicle registration number and the license plate number are the same thing. But, that’s not not the only place where you can find the vehicle registration number.
If the vehicle is not in your immediate possession, you can find the number in your vehicle documents.
Vehicle Registration Certificate
Your local government will give you the registration certificate after your car has passed the registration process. Also, you’ll get your license plate at the same time.
It’s smart to make copies of the registration certificate and keep them in different places. That way, if the registration gets locked in your car because you’ve lost your car keys, you would have a spare copy.
To find the registration number, look for terms like “Registration number,” “Licence plate number,” or “Plate number.” The wording varies across states, but you can usually find it at the top of the document.
Certificate of Title
You can’t register your car if you don’t own it. As proof of ownership, you have to have a Certificate of Title.
Find your title and look for the section where it says “Plate number.” That’s your vehicle registration number.
Apart from owning and registering your car, you also have to have insurance to be able to drive it on the road. Your insurance certificate or card won’t contain the vehicle registration number.
The insurance certificate will most definitely only include the VIN.
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To sum up, the vehicle registration number is the same as the license plate number. It’s that simple.
But, finding it in documents might be a daunting task. The wording differs from state to state. In most cases, look for where it says “Registration number” or “Plate number,” and you’ll find the vehicle registration number.
Lastly, keep in mind that the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, is not the same as the registration number.
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